How to secure a Gmail account

How to secure a Gmail account

Gmail is one of the most popular email services in the world, with over 1.5 billion active users as of 2019. However, due to its popularity, Gmail is also a target for hackers and scammers. If you’re not careful, your Gmail account could be compromised, leaving you vulnerable to spam, phishing attacks, and other malicious activity.

That’s why it’s important to take steps to secure your Gmail account and protect yourself from potential threats. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

1. Use a strong password

The first step to securing your Gmail account is to choose a strong password. Avoid using easily guessed words or phrases like “password” or your birthdate. Instead, opt for a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer your password is, the better.

One of the most important things you can do to secure your Gmail account is to use a strong password. A strong password is at least 8 characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessed words or personal information like your birthdate or address.

A strong password is at least 8 characters long and includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessed words like your name or birthdate, as well as common phrases or sequences like “123456” or “password”. If you’re having trouble coming up with a strong password, consider using a password manager to generate one for you.

2. Enable two-factor authentication

Another way to secure your Gmail account is to enable two-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code from your phone or another device in addition to your password when logging in.

This feature adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code from your mobile phone in addition to your password when logging in. That way, even if someone manages to guess your password, they won’t be able to access your account unless they also have your phone.

To enable Two-Factor Authentication, first make sure you have a working mobile number associated with your Gmail account. Then, go to your Google Account page and click on “Security”. Scroll down to the “Two-Step Verification” section and click on the “Get Started” button. Follow the prompts to set up Two-Factor Authentication for your account.

3. Use a Secure Connection

Whenever possible, make sure you’re using a secure connection when accessing your Gmail account. You can tell if a connection is secure if the URL starts with “HTTPS://” and there’s a green lock icon next to it. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to check or send sensitive information like passwords or banking information, as these networks are often not secure.

4. Be careful with third-party apps

If you use any third-party apps with your Gmail account, be sure to only use ones that you trust. These apps can access your email data, so it’s important to only give access to ones that you’re confident won’t misuse it.

5. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity

Even if you take all the necessary security measures, there’s always a chance that your account could be hacked. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, such as unexpected login attempts or unfamiliar messages in your inbox. If you see anything suspicious, report it to Google right away so they can investigate and help secure your account.

By following these steps, you can help make sure that your Gmail account is as secure as possible. Keep in mind that no system is 100% secure, but taking these precautions will help reduce the risk of your account being hacked.

One of the most important steps you can take to secure your Gmail account is to create a strong password.

6. Use Google’s Advanced Protection Program

If you’re concerned about the security of your Gmail account, Google offers an Advanced Protection Program that provides additional security measures. To enroll in the program, you’ll need to use two-step verification and have a Security Key connected to your account. Once you’re enrolled, Google will take extra steps to protect your account from phishing attacks and other threats.

7. Be aware of phishing scams

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals try to trick you into giving them your personal information, such as your passwords or credit card numbers. They may do this by sending you an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate company, such as Google, asking you to click on a link or open an attachment. Or they may create a fake website that looks like a real one, such as Gmail.com.

If you think you might have received a phishing email:

  1. Don’t reply to the message.
  2. Don’t click on any links in the message.
  3. If you’re not sure whether the message is real, go to the website yourself (typing in the URL yourself, not following a link in the email) and look for any announcements about fake emails or websites.

If you think you might have been taken to a fake website:

Make sure the URL of the website starts with HTTPS:// (the “s” stands for “secure”). You’ll also see a padlock icon in your browser’s address bar. Keep in mind that some phishers create fake websites with addresses that are very similar to the real website, so be sure to check carefully. Never enter your password on a website unless you’re sure it’s the real website.

Other tips!

  1. If you entered your username and password on a fake website, go to the real website and change your password immediately.
  2. If you think you might have downloaded a phishing email attachment: Do not open any attachments from people you don’t know. This is especially important for email attachments with extension .exe, .vbs, or .scr because they can contain viruses. If you’re not sure about an attachment, ask the person who sent it to you whether they meant to send it before opening it. To be extra cautious, you can submit the file to virustotal.com to scan it with multiple anti-virus programs.
  3. If you opened a phishing email attachment: Scan your computer with anti-virus software and change your password immediately. If you use the same password on other websites, change those passwords, too.
  4. If you clicked on a phishing link: If you think you might have been taken to a fake website, check the URL carefully to see if it’s spelled correctly. Also, look for strange characters in the URL. A fake website might also look like a real website, but with a slightly different URL (for example, paypaI.com instead of paypal.com). To be extra cautious, type the URL of the website you’re trying to visit directly into your browser’s address bar rather than clicking on a link.
  5. If you gave away your password: If you think someone has your password, change it immediately. Choose a strong password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. If you use the same password on other websites, change those passwords, too.

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Author:
I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...